By. Tricia Stefankiewicz
What is Fiber?
Fiber is a plant-based food that is NOT digestible!
Health Benefits of eating fiber:
Maintains bowel health and regularity
• Fiber helps keep stool soft enough to pass through your bowel and decrease constipation
• Fiber decreases risk of developing hemorrhoids and possibly decreases colon cancer risk
Lower cholesterol levels.
• Soluble fiber like beans, oats, pectins from fruit, attach to cholesterol that may be in the walls of the intestine. Fiber helps get rid of the cholesterol
• How? Because this fiber is NOT digestible, the cholesterol is pulled out into the stool as it passes through the intestine and cholesterol is disposed of in waste products.
Lowers/maintains blood sugar levels:
• Fiber intake helps prevent the dips and spikes that may occur as you eat food
• Fiber slows the absorption of sugar in the blood stream
• For someone who has diabetes, this will help promote stable blood sugar levels
Assists with weight management
• By providing feeling of satiety and feeling full when fiber rich foods are part of the diet
How much do you need?
• Women 20-25 grams/day
• Men: 30-35 g/day
Average consumption is ~ 15 grams/day
Where can I food fiber rich foods?
• Ready to eat cereal – oat, bran
• Whole Wheat Breads/Pasta
• Potatoes; white and sweet
Things to consider
• For breads, pasta, and cereals – look for items that have at least 2- 5 grams of fiber per serving on the nutrition label
• Fiber can be found on the nutrition food label under total carbohydrates
• Go slow when increasing fiber intake. Too much fiber too quickly can cause GI upset like gas, bloat, cramping, and diarrhea
• As you increase fiber intake, also increase water intake. Water is needed to help push the waste through the GI tract so that it cleans out your bowels.
Overall, Fiber should be included in your diet to help maintain bowel regularity, cholesterol levels, blood sugar stability, and weight management.